Note: This will likely be my last blog post until I get back to Greenville. It takes too long to upload pictures and I’ve got to wake up at 4:15am on Sunday so I’ll need to catch up on sleep. I’ll update this blog with posts of my last couple days when I get back.
I woke up with the intention on doing some like hiking and taking pictures of waterfalls. The parking permit on my car expired at 7:15am, so it forced me to get an early start. After grabbing my things, I drove down to see the lake before heading out of town.
Instead, I found partly blue skies, no rain, and good visibility. What luck! I made a quick decision to change my plans and do the self driving tour of the Julian Alps instead.
I start by heading north on the A2 expressway and grab breakfast on the way while filling up the gas tank from yesterday. It cost me somewhere around €40 including the food.
Soon I get off the expressway and head towards Triglav National Park, the only national park in Slovenia. I drive through a nice valley and excitedly stop to take some pictures of a blue sky. I realize I have a big smile on my face at this point.
|A rack for drying hay.|
Due to Slovenia’s climate, they developed a unique way of hanging hay to dry. These hayracks are an important part of Slovenian culture and there are even plans to build a hay rack museum.
Around 10 minutes later, I enter the national park and quickly meet some new friends.
They looked just as surprised to see me and I did to see them. One came up pretty close to the car to investigate, then walked down the middle of the road. After they continued on, so did I.
I then begin driving the Vršič Pass – a high mountain pass characterized by 50 hairpin turns which are numbered with signs also showing the elevation.
At turn #8 sits a small Russian Chapel. Taken from a signpost: “During World War I, this area was an important cross road for military passages. When Italy declared war to Austria in May 1915, the connection with the front line on the river Soča was of strategic importance, especially during the years 1915-1916. Austrain military commanders engaged more than 10,000 Russian war prisoners to build the road.
In 1916, while this road was built, an avalanche killed 400 Russian POW and 10 guards. This chapel serves as a place of remembrance for those prisoners who built the road that so many enjoy today.”
I continued up the winding turns stopping occasionally to take pictures.
I finally made it up to the top of the pass around 12:30pm and I’m greeted by my next set of friends: sheep!
|My shoelaces must have tasted good|
After my second brush with roaming animals, I grabbed lunch at a mountain top restaurant: kraut and sausage. Definitely different from Croatia and Bosnian food.
|Not my picture, but this is where I ate|
I continued down the other side of the mountain and reach the valley below. The Soča river is an incredible shade of turquoise. Neither of these pictures were edited.
In getting to the end of the self-driving tour, I decide to go back the way I came instead of the longer route of driving through Ljubljana. I stopped at the visitors center to grab this picture before continuing on.
I stop again on the side of the road to capture the valley one last time before I head back to the switchbacks.
I get back to Lake Bled and decide to go to Bled Island while the weather is still good. I get in a pletna, a flat bottomed boat with a design that is passed down through generations. The trip costs €12, including a 30 minute wait on the island.
|The pletna I went in and the guy who rowed us there|
After the island, I stopped by Triglav Adventures, the company that I’m going hot air ballooning and paragliding with. I walked in and asked about both, and he tells me that while the weather should work for both activities, they need more than one person to sign up for the hot air balloon ride in order to fly. At a price point of €220 per person, I briefly thought about just paying for two tickets, but based on the weather lately, I’d be disappointed if the skies weren’t clear. Instead, I decide to look into paragliding. I pay him €95 for it and he says to come back tomorrow at 12:30pm, and if the weather is good, I can fly then. If I don’t end up going, I get my money back. I’m keeping a close eye on the weather though.
I then grabbed desert at a lakeside restaurant. Bled is famous for their creme cakes. It has a puff pastry top, a custard creme filling, and then is topped with powdered sugar. It’s no Bled muffin, but it was amazing.
Finally, I went to Bled Castle and witnessed a medieval show which was pretty entertaining. On my way back down to the parking lot, I overhead some older British women talking about having to walk in the rain, so I offered them a ride since I drove there. They were very appreciative. I think Americans have a pretty bad reputation so I try to change that when I travel.
Tomorrow (Friday) I hope to go paragliding! Hoping for good weather…